Unions must organise to defend education
Jane Nellist, NUT executive member (personal capacity)
A seething anger permeated throughout school staffrooms when the Tory government announced their intention that all schools in England must become academies and join Multi Academy Trusts (MAT).
Calls of ‘strike!’ by school staff echoed around the country with the realisation of what this means for schools: attacks on national pay and conditions and the democratic accountability of schools.
There is a growing body of evidence showing that MATs are not making the claimed improvements to schools. In a letter to Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan, the chief inspector of schools Michael Wilshaw (no friend of teachers) raised concerns about scrutiny of MATs, large cash reserves not being spent on pupils and high levels of pay for chief executives!
It was always this government’s intention to seek a way to privatise education and enable schools to be run for profit, just as is happening in the health service.
You only have to look at other countries like the US, to see that this would be a catastrophe and must be stopped.
Protests have quickly been arranged in towns and cities to resist these attacks. A petition calling for a public inquiry and referendum reached 100,000 signatures in just four days.
Unions and trades councils need to mobilise and organise public meetings to explain the consequences of these attacks and build support to resist them.
The Tories are in more disarray and teachers are looking for Nicky Morgan to go the way of Iain Duncan Smith! The war over the EU and party leadership has exposed weaknesses that trade unions must take advantage of.
Education unions need to build the confidence of their members with a mass national demonstration early next term.
The TUC should be mobilising and reaching out to our communities to defend our schools, NHS and public services.
All three teaching unions are meeting over Easter for their annual conferences. There must be a united approach to fight this attack, with support staff as well.
The NUT conference must agree a strategy for national action to defend our schools. The solid sixth form colleges strike demonstrated an appetite to fight back on the funding cuts.
For the sake of our children and communities, these plans can be defeated. The Tories can be pushed back if we act decisively now.
See page 5 for a feature on academies.